The House of Representatives has rejected a bill seeking to reform the Nigeria Police Force.
The bill was rejected at yesterday’s plenary, about a month after being passed by the Senate. The bill, which seeks to repeal the Police Act of 2004, would “provide for the frame-work for the police service” as well as ensure partnership between the police and communities.
Some of its provisions include: Establishment of a police fund; a fine of N100,000 or six months imprisonment for anyone who assaults a police officer, obstructs or resists a police officer; fine of N20,000 or three months imprisonment for officers caught taking liquor or intoxicating substance while on duty; establishment of community police forum.
The lawmakers specifically argued that some of the pro- visions are inconsistent with the 1999 Constitution, as amended. Chairman, Committee on Police Affairs, Abubakar lawal, said while the changes to the Police Act were long overdue, the bill is inconsistent with the constitution.
“Unless we amend the constitution, we can not implement the bill. The bill also proposed the reduction of the number of DIGs, are we moving forward or backward? The bill is also referring to the Police as police force which is against the constitution,” he said.
Deputy Speaker, Lasun Yusuf, agreed with him, and said the bill would “further complicate things. Most of the provisions of this bill are against the constitution. This bill is complicating matters. How can we talk about consultation with the governor when commissioners of police are not answerable to the governors?” he asked.
Tobi Okechukwu, from Enugu State, said the major reform needed in the Nigeria force is the establishment of state police.
“The present structure is defective. The governors have all agreed that there is need for state police. Judging by the crime rate, we need to consider the structure of the police. When you take an Anambra man to Borno, it will take him time to adjust.”
Mohammed Monguno, from Borno state, however, argued in favour of the bill and said it would bring the standard operating procedure of police up to the level of international best practices. It was subsequently voted against when put to vote by Speaker Yakubu Dogara.